We are right at the cusp of everyone’s favorite and simultaneously most feared time of year: the holidays.

While it’s a happy time that most look forward to, it is also full of stress, distraction and temptation. Everywhere you look, for the next 3 months, there will be nothing but parties, drinking, baked goods and junk as far as the eye can see.

These distractions are usually enough to cause most people to throw their workouts out the window, eat whatever is in arm’s reach (Half a candy cane you found in your purse? You know you’ve done it) and plan to pick things back up in the New Year. Well, this thinking, my friends, is what has kept your new Year’s resolution “to lose weight” the same for years. You can, however, come out of the holiday season still able to fit into pants without an elastic waistband. You can easily say no to tempting goodies and food pushers while still managing to keep a consistent exercise routine AND enjoy all the holidays have to offer. How? With a little planning, a lot of resolve and few simple tips:

Take time to relax. It’s the holidays, so enjoy yourself! Stress is harmful to your health, so be sure to find ways to unwind (exercise is great for that, by the way.)

Learn to say no. You will be invited to a million functions, parties and get togethers. Each one, without fail, will be fraught with poor choices waiting to be chosen. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to each one. Prioritize your nights to avoid overextending yourself and spending too many late nights drinking and eating, and too many mornings hitting the snooze button.

Make your house a junk food free zone. Everyone likes to give out sweet breads, cookies and candies as gifts this time of year; keep them sealed and regift them to someone else. Keep only enough Halloween candy for the kiddos, then ditch the rest. Out of sight, out of mind- and out of mouth.

If you are invited to a party, bring your own healthy side dish you feel safe munching on. Your host will appreciate the gesture and you will appreciate knowing exactly what you are eating and how it was prepared.

When you arrive at a holiday gathering, look for green light foods, things like raw veggies, fruit, cheese, nut mixes, and lean meat. You can load up your plate with these and still be able to enjoy one or two indulgences without guilt.

Keep your alcohol to a minimum. Of course, no alcohol would be the best option, but let’s be realistic. Stick with lighter options like wine, or clear liquors with low calorie mixers like gin and tonic or a vodka and Diet Coke. Choose light versions of beer and stay away from anything creamy (yes, that means egg nog, too.)

Continue to eat in regular intervals, no matter what the meal before it looked like. Always start the day with breakfast to get your metabolism going. If you do overindulge, adjust for those meals by slimming down the next one, but don’t cut any meals out completely. That’s the quickest way to slow it.

Ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?” to avoid mindless eating. If you look forward to your aunt’s pecan pie every year, then by all means, have a slice. But if it’s half a cookie someone wants to pawn off on you, it’s not.

Crank up your exercise level to close the gap. You will be indulging more this time of year (its; better to be realistic and just admit that) so add a little something extra to your workouts, like a few extra minutes, a few extra miles or an extra workout.

Workout first thing in the morning. With the kids on vacation from school, the adults off to work, and either hosting visitors or dealing with travel plans, nothing goes according to schedule. If you’re not a morning person, we know how you can become one.

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